Preps Talk

Random News of the Day: Good Gosh Almighty!

Random News of the Day: Good Gosh Almighty!

Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010
11:30 AM

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

This is a guarantee: dreams will come true for hundreds of football players this weekend.

Its high school football championship time in Illinois once again. Teams from all sorts of backgrounds from the corn belt to Chicagos city streets will fight for the right to hoist a state trophy in Champaign. The 1A-4A games are on Friday, while 5A, 6A, 7A and 8A teams get their crack on Saturday. Some games will be remebered for the hard tackles. Others will be remembered for the last-minute touchdowns and clutch kicks.

And if any game can produce a fraction of the bizarre heroics seen in the Good Gosh Almighty game, consider it a success.

This Friday marks the 16th anniversary of one of the wildest, heart-stopping games (or heartbreaking, depending how you look at it) in high school football history: the 1994 Texas Class 5A Region II semifinal game between Plano East and John Tyler. Over 30,000 fans packed Texas Stadium the former home of the Dallas Cowboys and witnessed an absolute Tilt-O-Whirl of a battle with a remarkable finish. It led to national attention, which included The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and, in a roundabout way, the 1999 movie Varsity Blues.

Plano East came into the game ranked 2 in the state, with John Tyler right behind at 3. The two undefeated teams traded scores and hits over the first three quarters before John Tyler blew the game wide open in the fourth. A 35-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown put the Lions from J-T ahead 41-17 with 3:03 to go.

And then this happened.

(Spoiler Alert: Please make sure you watch that clip until the very last second!)

It was arguably one of the best (well, at least the most breathless) finishes to a football game in history. Try finding another game that featured...

Five touchdowns in three minutes

Three consecutive onside kick recoveries by the kicking team

A 97-yard kickoff return for touchdown that served as equal parts winning the lottery and a steel-toed kick to the gutdepending on what team colors were in your corner.

A jubilant team of (ahem) unbiased TV announcers becoming overnight stars.

Denny Garver, a local coach, was one of those announcers in the booth that night. He made phrases like Break out the Oreos baby!, Good gosh almighty! and They did it! They did it! They did it! momentary household terms. Garver was teamed with fellow announcers Eddy Clinton and longtime Texas high school football coach Mike Zoffuto on Plano's TeleCable Game of the Week.

I had never called a game before, Garver said in a telephone interview from last week. We werent making any money, we were volunteers. We figured if the viewers thought we were having a good time, they will as well. The game was unbelievable. People still talk about it, and I really can't believe that people do.

John Tyler won 48-44 and it made front page news in Texas the next morning. But that was only the beginning for Garver and company.

"I get a phone call from David Letterman and he wants me to be on the show," Garver said. "I said if he wanted me, he would also need to have Eddy. David only wanted me. Then Leno calls. They wanted both of us. I told them we would be there if there was some Lone Star Beer waiting for us. Sure enough, we get there, and there's a tub of Lone Star Beer. It was really special. We ended up being on about a hundred radio shows when it was all said and done."

A few years later, production on the movie "Varsity Blues" began in Georgetown, about three hours south of Plano. When the production staff needed a couple of announcers, Garver --and broadcast partner Clinton-- had their phones ring again.

"They told us just to be natural and be yourselves," Garver said. "We had no lines. We just started doing stuff off the cuff. They just told us to react to the plays. That was pretty cool. We shot from six in the evening to six in the morning. They were very professional."

Garver and Clinton became overnight sensations, going from broadcast volunteers at a high school playoff game to appearances on The Tonight Show and landing announcer roles in the movie "Varsity Blues" with James Van Der Beek and Jon Voight. But in my interview with Garver, he frequently mentioned that he never wanted to be bigger than the kids on the field. He even called himself "the biggest idiot" out there in Texas Stadium. I wouldn't say idiotic. Down home, maybe. Whatever the case, the game continues to be a conversation point at this time of year. The YouTube clip alone (shown above) has close to 1.5 million hits.

Denny Garver is now a baseball coach at Plano West High School. He helped coach the 2008 team to a Texas state title. Ironically, one of the players on that team, pitcher Robert Huber--who now attends Duke University, is the nephew of Jeff Whitley...the quarterback of Plano East from that classic 1994 contest. Garver has been giving DVDs from the broadcast of that game to kids and adults alike, presented as a sort of motivational tool.

"It wasn't so much about our call...but what people can learn from this. I always show this to people as reason to why they should never quit. You always have to play to the final whistle, the final buzzer or to the final out. This is why you never give up."

IHSA Football Playoff Pairings Show Roundup

IHSA Football Playoff Pairings Show Roundup

CLASS 1A

Revealing the Class 1A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 1A Bracket

CLASS 2A

Revealing the Class 2A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 2A Bracket

CLASS 3A

Revealing the Class 3A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 3A Bracket

CLASS 4A

Revealing the Class 4A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 4A Bracket

Predicting Class 1A-4A

CLASS 5A

Revealing the Class 5A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 5A Bracket

CLASS 6A

Revealing the Class 6A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 6A Bracket

CLASS 7A

Revealing the Class 7A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 7A Bracket

CLASS 8A

Revealing the Class 8A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 8A Bracket

Class 7A and Class 8A Predictions

 

In ugly home opener, Lauri Markkanen gives a glimmer of hope

In ugly home opener, Lauri Markkanen gives a glimmer of hope

Keeping the game simple is often a tough task for rookies entering the NBA, but it seems Lauri Markkanen has been a quick learner in that aspect.

Through two games he’s probably the lone bright spot, especially after the Bulls’ cringe-inducing 87-77 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in their home opener at the United Center.

Jumper not falling? Okay, go to the basket.

“It wasn’t falling so I tried to get to the rim a couple times,” Markkanen said. “At the end, I was like let’s do it and I connected on a 3-pointer, I felt more open just because I was at the rim. I think that helped.”

He was asked what the difference was in the second game of his career compared to the first.

“I mean the crowd was chanting for us (tonight),” Markkanen said, referring to Thursday in Toronto.

He wasn’t attempting to display any dry wit but applying common sense seems to work for him, even though he’s been thrust into a situation after an incident that doesn’t make any sense.

With Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic out for the foreseeable future, playing a game-high 37 minutes will be more common than anomaly.

“Whatever your minutes are, you gotta play them to the best of your ability,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He’s being allowed to play through some mistakes right now. He’s gonna play heavy minutes every night.”

He only shot five of 14 but achieved his first double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds after a 17-point, eight-rebound debut against the Raptors Thursday.

No, someone didn’t open a door for a draft to come into the United Center on that three-pointer that went wide left, but it didn’t stop him from being assertive and continuing to look for his shot.

There was plenty of muck, easy to see on the stat sheet. The 38 percent shooting overall, the lack of penetration, the 29 percent shooting from 3-point range and 20 turnovers.

It’s not hard to imagine what Markkanen will look like with competent and effective NBA players around him, along with a true facilitating point guard that will find him in this offense.

“Markkanen is a wonderful player,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He’s aggressive, he’s smart and obviously, he can shoot the ball. He’s just going to get better and better as he figures things out.”

He received a crash course, facing the likes of Pau Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay Saturday night. On one instance, Gay drove baseline and made Markkanen buckle with a 3-point play.

Aldridge had 24 shots in 32 minutes as a new focal point with Kawhi Leonard out with injury.

So he’s not getting treated with kid gloves, nor is he backing down from the assignments.

“He didn’t shoot the ball well but he battled,” Hoiberg said. “He had a tough assignment with Pau, who’s gonna be in the Hall of Fame one day. Good experience. He guarded Aldridge, Rudy Gay some. He battled, he fought them.”

Even with the airball, had the moment that gives the Bulls fans hope, when he drove on Gasol, spun and hooked a lefty layup while being fouled by the veteran in the first half—giving the United Center faithful something to have faith in for a moment.

“Sometimes you get labeled as a shooter. That’s the label Lauri had,” Hoiberg said. “But he really is a complete basketball player. He’s versatile, he can put in on the deck. He slides his feet very well for a guy that’s seven feet tall, someone his age. Yeah, he’s learning on the fly. He’s gonna have ups and downs, as young as he is. He’s gonna have some struggles at times. But he’s played pretty darn well for everything he’s been through, understanding two days ago he’s gonna be in the starting lineup.”

And for all the bad air around the Bulls right now, from the on-court product to the off-court drama that seems to follow them around like Pigpen, it would be even worse if Markkanen’s first two games had him looking like a corpse, or someone who would be a couple years away from reasonably contributing to an NBA team.

“He’s good, he’s very good,” Gasol said. “I like him. I like his game.”